Tips before pursuing your postgraduate degree

By Dr Muhammad Aiman Arifin, UOS MBA Lecturer, School of Business

After getting your first degree, there may be some of you who intend to further your studies at the postgraduate level. Studying at the postgraduate level is not the same as studying at the undergraduate level. It is full of challenges at the postgraduate level and these challenges may be different for each student. To reduce these challenges, students should understand that the postgraduate learning system requires a more comprehensive approach and should be understood as early as possible before the students further their studies. Here are some tips for students who plan to continue their master’s and PhD studies in the future.

“Studying at the postgraduate level requires a more comprehensive approach. Once you have understood that, you will be better prepared for your studies.” – Dr Aiman

  1. Know your purpose

If you plan to further your studies at the postgraduate level, make sure that you are clear about your purpose. This is because each student has his own purpose regarding why he wants to continue with his studies. For those of you who want to pursue a career in teaching, the minimum requirement is at least a master’s degree or a PhD.

  1. Location of Institution

Apart from that, the location of your institution must also be taken into account. After identifying the institution that offers your field of study, you must choose the institution that is close to where you live because at the postgraduate level, you need to have constant meetings with your supervisor.

  1. Education Fees

To ensure that your studies run smoothly until the end, you should check the amount of fees you have to pay each semester. For those of you who are already working, you can finance your own education. For those of you who are not working yet, you must make sure that you have sufficient funds to pay for your school fees before you sign up for a postgraduate program.

  1. Potential Supervisor

During this preparation period, there is a need to contact those who have the potential to be your supervisor by asking their opinions regarding your research ideas or draft proposal. This approach is more practical because, in this way, you would already have a good title or direction of study before you enrol as a postgraduate student. In addition, by conducting preliminary discussions, you can continue to appoint that potential person as your supervisor to facilitate your research work.

  1. Research idea and proposal

Looking at the challenges faced by me and my friends while studying, it is recommended that you make your draft proposal before you make any application to continue your studies. During this preparation period, there is a need to contact those who have the potential to be your supervisor by asking their views regarding your research proposal. It is good if you show them your proposals first.

  1. Commitment

It is recommended that you think of your new study commitments seriously before you begin your studies. It is not intended to intimidate you, but postgraduate studies are demanding and will require a very high commitment from you.

  1. Study plan

You are encouraged to have your long-term and short-term plans throughout your studies. If you are still unsure of what to do, try asking your friends who have successfully graduated or any knowledgeable person. With careful planning, it would be so much easier for you to achieve your academic goals.

  1. Part-time or full-time mode

You must decide for yourself if you want to continue your studies on a part-time or full-time mode. For those of you who are already working, you can choose based on your current commitment. For those of you who are on a scholarship, you can continue your studies by taking study leave. For those of you who are on a part-time mode, you are advised to ask for tips on how to manage your time with office tasks.

  1. Mentally prepared

You should also consider mental preparation before applying to further your studies. For this purpose, you are advised to ask experienced individuals about what are the common challenges faced by students. With that, you will not only know things that are related to your studies but also make sure that you are ready to face the new challenges.

  1. Build a relationship

It is also encouraged to build relationships with individuals who can be used as references either before or during the initial phase of studying. These individuals can be individuals that you need to know or your friends who are knowledgeable about studies at the postgraduate level. If you have any questions, then you can look for them to get the answers.

  1. University requirements

Each university in or outside of Malaysia has different requirements. After you have identified the selected institutions, you should understand the requirements of the university. For example, does the university require students to do coursework or how many papers need to be published before the student can graduate?

It is hoped that by understanding all of these elements, you will be better prepared before deciding to further your studies. Studying at the postgraduate level will definitely be one of the journeys that you will remember for the rest of your lives.

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